In January, we headed West for our first visit to Wyoming and the Snake River Sporting Club, a 1,000-acre luxury resort and residential property just south of Jackson. The sheer variety of summer and winter mountain activities coupled with the breathtaking setting make this world-class property an absolute gem.
As our plane touched down in Jackson, we were greeted by snowflakes lightly floating through the air like bits of down from a fluffy pillow. As we walked under elk antler archways into the Jackson Hole airport, we could see the snow-capped mountains and the airport’s Fredrick Remington-style statues. It is a rare occasion when an airport experience stirs feelings of excitement for what lies ahead.
Within minutes we had our gear and rental car. We drove through picturesque Jackson, a town that proclaims “outdoor adventure” with its abundant signs for white water rafting, heli-skiing, wildlife safaris, and fly fishing. The scenic drive south to the Snake River Sporting Club is a treat—winding roads hug soaring mountains boasting tracks of backcountry skiers, moose, and elk.
After a curve in the road following the Snake River, we emerged onto a historic red bridge connecting the banks of the emerald-tinted waterway. We passed Astoria Hot Springs Park and the club’s helipad at the river’s edge, before reaching the club’s entrance gate.
Rugged stone walls ran alongside the winding lane as we drove into the property, first past the entrance to the “ranch estates” offering ultra-luxury homesteads of up to 35 acres and then by the equestrian center located in the river valley.
In the middle of the property are the “lodges,” a neighborhood compound with a mix of housing available for rent from a single night to extended stays. While you can choose the size of your accommodations—from a single en suite room to the whole house, we rented the entire residence. Our lodge was immense with four en suite bedrooms each with floor-to-ceiling windows celebrating the scenery. A large kitchen spilled into a great room with the dual purpose of dining room/family room. The lodges are fully furnished with sturdy, beautifully made pieces from Restoration Hardware that make for luxurious comfort. The great room’s glass walls slide open granting entry to an expansive patio with a fireplace and hot tub offering the perfect vantage point to soak in the mountain views. It was during a moment of jacuzzi reflection that we realized what makes this resort so unique and captivating. Instead of viewing the mountains from a distance or being located at the base of one mountain slope, the Snake River Sporting Club is nestled in a narrow mountain valley where rocky ridges stretch toward the sky on both sides of the picturesque river, creating an enclave of mountains, water, pines, and sky. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
After a philosophical soak, we headed to the clubhouse for dinner. The substantial 26,000 square-foot clubhouse is a massive structure made of logs and stones, crowned with a roof of heavy cedar shakes. The building is circumscribed by a veranda and set against the backdrop of a million evergreens dotting the mountainside—cedars, spruce, firs, and pines—ensconced in the Teton wilderness.
The clubhouse foyer soars into an atrium and a wide staircase climbs to a second floor that houses the gym and ladies’ changing rooms. Western chic furnishings encircle a massive fireplace with colorful contemporary art lining the walls. Off the reception area are two restaurants—the formal River Room restaurant and the more casual Canyon Bar. Both incorporate local ingredients, boast outstanding wine lists, and offer astounding views. The chef works with local farms, dairies, and ranches to create simple yet sophisticated farm-to-table cuisine. Not only an expert at pairings, the chef is also a master of presentation.
After a blissful slumber, the earth seemed to yawn as the sun rose over the mountains, turning the snow into a sheet of crystals shimmering in the sun. My husband, an elite cross country ski racer, headed out to meet the club’s Nordic ski pro, Masha, for a ski on the ten-mile immaculately groomed course. He was incredibly impressed not only with Masha’s skills but also by the trails.
Between the views and the world-class grooming, he reported that Snake River Sporting Club has ski trails rivaling Europe’s best. The Club offers an endless array of seasonal activities. In the winter, the options include dog-sledding, all sorts of skiing (heli, backcountry, cross country, downhill, and private ski experiences), skating, snowshoeing, paddle tennis, snowmobiling, tubing, and hiking. In the summer, there is horseback riding, archery, clay shooting, hiking, biking, swimming, and not to mention golf on the Tom Weiskopf championship golf course, which was ranked the No. 1 course in Wyoming in 2015-2016 by Golf Digest. The property offers six miles of private access to the Snake River—renowned nationwide as a site for fly fishermen.
We loved feeling isolated in the mountains, however, if we wanted to head off the compound, Jackson is a 25-minute drive from the club (shuttle services are available year-round) and Yellowstone, the North American Serengeti, is just a few hours away. When we left Snake River Sporting Club, it was as if we were bidding a dear friend farewell with the promise to see each other again soon. The West might just be the best with its open skies and brilliant stars, mountain tops, wildlife galore, and people who are just plain friendly.
We can’t wait to return later this fall to listen for the bull elk’s bugle call and look for his massive shape silhouetted against a swaying sea of pines, wearing the shape of the wind.
For more information, visit snakeriversportingclub.com.